SLO County official accused of violating election law

March 26, 2022

Appointed Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano


San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano is facing a lawsuit over the way she chose to designate herself on the ballot for the June 7 primary.

In the suit that starts with: “Rules for thee but not for me,” T. Keith Gurnee alleges that Cano made a request to herself, the clerk-recorder, to approve an occupational ballot designation of “appointed” which Cano then approved.

Gurnee alleges that Cano’s use of the ballot designation of “appointed” violates the San Luis Obispo County Voter-Nominated and Non-Partisan Candidates Filing Guidelines because it fails to follow the rule that says that “appointed” must appear before the “title of the office.”

Cano listed herself in her initial nomination paperwork as “appointed incumbent,” an accepted designation under the California Elections Code.

Then on March 11, the last day to file papers, Cano changed her ballot designation to “county clerk-recorder, appointed.” Gurnee alleges that Cano should have rejected the designation for herself.

In the case of a retired doctor running for the District 2 supervisor seat, Cano rejected Dr. Bruce Jones’ proposed ballot designation of doctor or retired doctor, because he is currently retired, Jones said.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors voted on Oct. 12 to appoint Cano as county clerk-recorder. In her application, Cano described her 27 years of experience in regulating elections including as manager of elections for Santa Barbara County and assistant county clerk-recorder for SLO County.

As an appointed incumbent, if Cano decides to list the office she holds or that she is the incumbent, she is required by law to list appointed first, Gurnee argues in his lawsuit.

“Real party’s proposed ballot designation ‘county clerk-recorder, appointed’ is illegal as it designates an office to which she was appointed without using the modified ‘appointed’ as required by Section 13107(a)(4) and 2 Cal.Code Regs. Section 20715(a),” the lawsuit filed by attorney Michael Nolan on Gurnee’s behalf declares. “It will mislead the voter by suggesting both a status and an evaluation of the real party …”

The suit makes the argument that, “appointed” alone makes it reflect an “evaluation of the candidate” which is prohibited by Elections Code and “indicates to the voter an evaluation of the candidate as ‘equipped’ or ‘endowed.’ (The familiar descriptive phrase ‘well appointed’ comes to mind).”

Gurnee is asking the court to order Cano to remove the illegal occupational ballot designation and to refrain from substituting another ballot designation. Gurnee is also seeking attorney fees and court costs.

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Have the ballots been printed already? This seems like a very simple fix and the lawsuit’s attempt to keep her appointed office off the ballot entirely seems petty.

So correct the error and let’s get on with it.

Elaina claims years of ‘experience’ in the county clerk division. She SHOULD KNOW THE ELECTION LAWS.

She also has NOT been offering the public ‘transparency’ to election records, she claimed that she would, during her public interview, to be the fill in for Tommy Gong.

As for me…. I’ll be voting for JAMES BAUGH for County Clerk, he has served as an election supervisor and has seen the need to fix a the system.

He is also a person that has sworn an oath to serve and protect our country and has continued to serve & train military service operations as a civilian worker.


I tend to agree with Keith Gurnee’s assessment on how things work and sadly too many of, “the me now voters” overlooked him for the last SLO mayoral race only to find their horse on the wrong track. As they say, “hindsight is 20 20”.

You could see this train wreck coming. All the shenanigans at the City of San Luis Obispo and she was in the mix of all that crap. And now we are supposed to be surprised about misconduct. People we get what we paid for and we will be paying for this individual forever. Remember, she is just learning her job, she is new at it – this has been her excuse for 20 plus years.

Elaina Cano is either incompetent, manipulative or both. Regardless, the county needs a clerk-recorder who knows how to do the job, and does it correctly even when breaking the rules benefit her.

Maybe she went to the same class on how to do illegal activities as Tommy Gong.

That would be the government class of Lean By Doing 101.

I wonder if you could quantify those illegal activities? I know his wife was found guilty. I believe that’s why he left and he did go to a job with similar pay, so obviously Contra Costa County found him to be suitable. They must be just as corrupt as SLO County, right!

It doesn’t really matter. She’s going to be defeated by Jenkins and then we can hold him accountable to his campaign promises. I hope he’s a man of his word.

One more reason to vote Stew Jenkins for Clerk-Recorder.

Precisely, Stew Jenkins is immune to politics and does everything by the book. We shouldn’t have worry about politics in an actuarial office, but we do, and that is the only reason Jenkins is running.

I can’t hardly wait until Stew is elected and cleans up the county clerk’s office.